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History, Hogs And Hardening Up

It’s a battered cup, awarded to me when I was ten, so it’s old!

An essay, written for Anzac Day. I remember it was about Simpson and his donkey. The cup was my prize. That, and publication in the Hawkesbury Gazette.

English, especially “Composition”, was always my best school subject. But it was many years before I picked up a pen (or rather, hit the computer keyboard) and began writing again. At least my secretarial training was of use, though I’ve seen journalists whose two-finger typing almost outstripped my 100+ words per minute.

Hitching up with a press photographer helped, too, when I began writing articles for national magazines and newspapers. His pictures often accompanied my work, especially stories about history and travel.

There was a longing there, though, to start using my imagination, and write fiction. Cue the Romance Writers of Australia.

I attended the first conference, back in 1991. Very different from conferences these days! Catering, for example, was minimal. We had to bring our own packed lunches. Nowadays there are morning and afternoon teas, buffet lunches, a cocktail party and a 3-course dinner. Not to mention the writers’ workshops and author, editor and agent panels, plus pitching opportunities.

But it wasn’t until a move to Queensland’s Gold Coast that I got serious. I found the HOGs (Hearts of Gold). What a wonderful critique group! Each fortnight we dissect fellow members’ latest chapters. There’s no pressure. Deliver what you can, when you can, at least a few days ahead of a meeting, and we each go to work on it. There are members who’ve been there since the beginning. There are others who weren’t far behind (I’m in that group), and there are HOGs who left for various good reasons (nobody ever quits the HOGs without good cause!). There are some who go off and have adventures, then return to the fold (or should that be sty?). We have a lot of fun, and food, and celebrate not just publishing success (my fellow HOGs are seasoned writers, all published or award winners, or both), but birthdays, too!

Oh, the critiquing? Well, we all have different strengths and provide constructive criticism. Total honesty is involved. We’re such good friends, we’re able to tell it like it is. I count joining the HOGs (Hearts of Gold) one of the best things I ever did.

So, helpful steps in my writing career? One, joining RWA. Two, connecting with the HOGs. If you have a desire to write Romantic Fiction, join the Romance writing organisation in your country. And if you really want to improve your writing, hook up with a subsidiary critique group. I promise you, it will be one of the best things you’ve ever done.

The Heart Has Its Reasons is available for ORDER by clicking this link



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